It’s been a year since we said goodbye to our beloved friend and colleague Matt Tully. We continue to feel the deep void created by the absence of Matt’s voice in Indianapolis and beyond.
But as I pledged to his family and to readers after his passing last fall, the IndyStar staff and I willcontinue to do our part to keep his memory and important work alive.
Tully, who was a reporter and columnist for The Indianapolis Star for 16 years, died Oct. 29, 2018, two years after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. Matt and his wife have a son, who is now 8 years old.
This year, IndyStar is dedicating its Season for Sharing campaign to the Matthew L. Tully Memorial Fund. After his death, Matt’s wife, Valerie Tully, established a charitable fund in honor of Matt and designed to help disadvantaged children.
The Matthew L. Tully Memorial Fund was created to support educational opportunities for underprivileged youth, particularly in early childhood education. Matt wrote extensively about education and was passionate about the connection between quality education and success later in life.
The shared mission of IndyStar’s Our Children initiative and annual Season for Sharing campaign is to use the power of journalism to make a difference for Central Indiana youths. The Our Children committee, of which I am a member along with other IndyStar employees (Matt also was a founding committee member), wanted to recognize the first anniversary of his death with a fundraising effort to help sustain his endowment.
“My hope is that the memorial fund can continue to grow so people can come together for years to support our neighbors in the community,” Valerie told me. “It’s also a way to keep Matt’s spirit of giving alive for our son as he grows up, and it will be a sense of pride for him about the impact his dad had.”
The fund is managed by the Central Indiana Community Foundation. In the past year, Valerie has made grant recommendations and advised how the fund is used to support education initiatives.
So far, Valerie has directed funding to some organizations that fall under the United Way’s Great Families 2020 campaign, including: Community Alliance of the Far Eastside; Hawthorne Community Center; John H. Boner Community Center; East 10th United Methodist Children & Youth Center, Inc.; Marion County Commission on Youth; and Martin Luther King Community Center.
Other Tully fundrecipients include: Edna Martin Christian Center; Visually Impaired Preschool Services — Indiana; St. Nicholas Early Learning, Inc.; Auntie Mame’s Child Development Center, Inc.; St. Mary’s Child Center; and Early Learning Indiana.
Each organization’s needs vary, and the memorial fund has helped in differing ways. For example, funding to the Edna Martin Christian Center was used to support a new child care center to serve the 2200 block of Ralston, a high-need area. Early Learning Indiana funding was dedicated to its tuition assistance program, which directly helps lower-income families access subsidized, high-quality care at the Day Early Learning education centers.
“The first priority has been a focus on helping expand access to high-quality early-childhood education for families who may otherwise not be able to afford it,” Valerie said. “At its core, that’s the mission of the memorial fund because Matt saw that issue as so vital to the strength of our community and children’s future success.”
Valerie said the memorial fund is set up to allow a good deal of flexibility to provide grants to organizations that sometimes receive donations that are restricted to specific programs or events. As she’s worked to learn more about the needs in the community, Valerie said the message she received from providers is that it’s most difficult to raise general funds to be used at their discretion based on needs at any given time.
“This is a wonderful way to give, but the flexibility of a general contribution is really very impactful, especially for smaller organizations that may not have a large donor base,” she said.
The Season for Sharing campaign has been raising money for people in need in Central Indiana since 1994. Because of your generosity over the years, we have been able to provide more than $2 million in grants to worthy organizations that work for the greater good in the Indianapolis community. This year’s campaign begins today and runs through Dec. 31.
We invite you to join us again by making a financial contribution. The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust will match your donations dollar for dollar up to $25,000. All charitable donations are tax-deductible. And IndyStar covers all fundraising and administrative costs, so every dollar you contribute goes directly to those early-childhood education providers selected by the Tully family.
Throughout this campaign, we will feature agencies serving Central Indiana children and families in need. Look for those stories, every Thursday and Sunday, and a series of op-eds from strong voices from within the community.
Valerie Tully described her husband as a really down-to-earth person — I can attest to that — so she thinks he’d be a little overwhelmed by our desire to dedicate the Season for Sharing campaign to him. But she said he’d also be very honored.
Still, Valerie said Matt’s legacy is about more than the memorial fund and even his impact as a journalist. It’s about how much he genuinely cared about and was interested in people — those he knew and those he would never know. It was about how he treated people, whether it was checking in on a friend, sending a thank you note to someone who had helped him out, or noticing the little things that made someone special.
“That’s a legacy anyone can leave behind just in the way they treat other people,” she said. “You don’t have to have a public platform to leave a legacy like that.
“But he was so passionate about journalism and especially the potential for journalism to have a positive impact on society,” Valerie Tully continued. “It would have meant a lot to him to know that IndyStar would continue his legacy through the Season for Sharing campaign, and I’m incredibly grateful that this push will continue to keep Matt’s memory and legacy alive.”
Go to indystar.com/ocdonate to learn how to donate online. If you prefer to send a check, please mail to: Central Indiana Community Foundation, Attn: Our Children, 615 N. Alabama St., Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46204. You also can donate by texting “SHARING” to 80888.